What is a saline solution enema?

An enema is a liquid that is placed in your child’s rectum to stimulate the release of large stools. Enemas may be prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider if your child is blocked up (impacted). Some children need a second enema 24 hours later if they are still blocked up. Signs that your child is still impacted include continued soiling or a large lump that can be felt in the lower abdomen.

Once stool blockage is cleared, enemas are no longer necessary. Your child’s constipation can be treated with oral medicines. Continuous use of enemas irritates the anus and can cause your child to hold back stools.

Use the enema solution recommended by your healthcare provider and follow the instructions carefully. Enemas are generally not used in children under 2 years of age.

To give a homemade enema, you need an enema bag, an enema tube, a lubricant (such as KY Jelly), and distilled water. You can buy these supplies at most pharmacies. Another option is to use a rubber bulb syringe.

You can make a homemade saline solution by adding 2 level teaspoons of table salt to a quart of lukewarm distilled water. Do not use soapsuds, hydrogen peroxide, or plain water as an enema. They can be dangerous.

The amount of normal saline solution that should be given to children at various ages is:

2 to 6 years… 6 ounces

6 to 12 years… 12 ounces

Adolescents and adults… 16 ounces